Birth method, gestation duration may alter infants' gut microbiota

February 03, 2015

WASHINGTON, DC - February 3, 2015 - Environmental factors like mode of delivery and duration of gestation may affect how infants' gut bacteria mature, and that rate could help predict later body fat, international researchers from the EpiGen consortium have found in collaboration with scientists at Nestlé Research Center in Switzerland. The work is published this week in mBio®, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

Among a group of 75 infants, those who were vaginally delivered and had a longer gestation before birth tended to more quickly develop a more mature gut microbiota, and had typical body fat at 18 months. By contract, babies who were delivered via Caesarean section and had shorter gestations took longer to acquire a more mature gut microbiota and had lower body fat at 18 months.

"It seems like the early environment, for instance mode of delivery, mode of feeding, the duration of gestation and living environment may be influencing the rate at which babies acquire their gut microbiota," said senior study author Joanna Holbrook, a senior principal investigator at the Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences, "and that in turn has an association with how babies grow and put on body fat."

At birth, human infants start accumulating intestinal microbiota until a relatively stable state is reached, Holbrook said. The rate at which babies acquire gut microbiota is believed to have a considerable impact on later health outcomes.

For the study, Holbrook and colleagues used a laboratory technique called 16s rRNA sequencing to analyze stool samples that had been collected from 75 infants participating in the GUSTO (Growing Up in Singapore Toward Healthy Outcomes) study, which includes members of the three main ethnic groups in Singapore: Chinese, Indian and Malay. The samples were taken when the infants were three days old, three weeks old, three months old and six months old. GUSTO, which aims to evaluate the role of developmental factors in the early pathways to metabolic disease, is Singapore's largest birth cohort study to date. All babies in the study were born at term.

Researchers investigated the effect of environmental factors including delivery mode and duration of gestation on trajectories of microbial development, along with the associative relationships with later body fat.

Their work found that the samples could be classified into three distinct clusters based on when infants' gut microbiota matured. Of 17 infants who had a more mature, six month-like microbiota profile high in the bacteria Bifidobacterium and Collinsella by day three, 16 were delivered vaginally. Other babies took up to six months to reach that stage.

Most infants acquired a similar microbiota by the age of six months. Infants that acquired a profile high in Bifidobacterium and Collinsella at an earlier age had typical body fat at age 18 months, while those that acquired this profile later had relatively low body fat.
-end-
Study coauthors were from the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine in Singapore; KKH Woman's and Children's Hospital in Singapore; and the MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit and NIHR Southampton Biomedical Research Centre, United Kingdom. The work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Singapore, the Agency for Science and Technology Research (A*STAR) and Nestlé.

mBio® is an open access online journal published by the American Society for Microbiology to make microbiology research broadly accessible. The focus of the journal is on rapid publication of cutting-edge research spanning the entire spectrum of microbiology and related fields. It can be found online at http://mbio.asm.org.

The American Society for Microbiology is the largest single life science society, composed of over 39,000 scientists and health professionals. ASM's mission is to advance the microbiological sciences as a vehicle for understanding life processes and to apply and communicate this knowledge for the improvement of health and environmental and economic well-being worldwide.

American Society for Microbiology

Related Infants Articles from Brightsurf:

Most infants are well even when moms are infected by COVID-19
Infants born to women with COVID-19 showed few adverse outcomes, according to the first report in the country of infant outcomes through eight weeks of age.

Probiotic may help treat colic in infants
Probiotics -- or 'good bacteria' -- have been used to treat infant colic with varying success.

Deaf infants' gaze behavior more advanced than that of hearing infants
Deaf infants who have been exposed to American Sign Language are better at following an adult's gaze than their hearing peers, supporting the idea that social-cognitive development is sensitive to different kinds of life experiences.

Initiating breastfeeding in vulnerable infants
The benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and child are well-recognized, including for late preterm infants (LPI).

Young infants with fever may be more likely to develop infections
Infants with a high fever may be at increased risk for infections, according to research from Penn State College of Medicine.

Early term infants less likely to breastfeed
A new, prospective study provides evidence that 'early term' infants (those born at 37-38 weeks) are less likely than full-term infants to be breastfeed within the first hour and at one month after birth.

Infants are more likely to learn when with a peer
Researchers at the University of Connecticut and University of Washington looked at the mechanisms involved in language learning among nine-month-olds, the youngest population known to be studied in relation to on-screen learning.

Allergic reactions to foods are milder in infants
Majority of infants with food-induced anaphylaxis present with hives and vomiting, suggesting there is less concern for life-threatening response to early food introduction.

Non-dairy drinks can be dangerous for infants
A brief report published in Acta Paediatrica points to the dangers of replacing breast milk or infant formula with a non-dairy drink before one year of age.

Infants can't talk, but they know how to reason
A new study reveals that preverbal infants are able to make rational deductions, showing surprise when an outcome does not occur as expected.

Read More: Infants News and Infants Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.